Many people relate physical abuse to violence, but violence can take many different forms. All forms of violence are criminal! Here, we explain different types of violence and abuse and what they entail.

Have you been subject to violence or do you know anyone who has? Alert the police on phone number 114 14. If there is an emergency, call 112.

No one is allowed to treat you badly, either mentally or physically. Everyone, children and adults alike, has the right a life free of violence. Nevertheless, people suffer violence in various forms every day.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse means that you are subject to violence against your body, by one or more people. This can involve punches, kicks, blows or slaps, or violence with any form of weapon/object.

Passive physical violence can be a person subjecting another person to some form of violent action that has physical consequences, such as denying them sleep or food.

Subjecting someone to physical violence is ALWAYS a crime.

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse can involve being called malicious, offensive and degrading words. It can also involve threats, either directed at a person or as threats to self-harm if a person does not agree to go along with certain things.

Psychological abuse does not cause visible physical damage, but causes pain inside the victim. Since psychological abuse cannot be seen, it can be more difficult to both discover and prove, but it is still just as serious a crime as physical abuse.

Sexual violence

When someone performs a sexual act against someone else against their will, this is a sexual crime. Examples include rape, aggravated rape, rape of children, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, purchase of sexual services and procuring (financially exploiting another person to have sex in return for compensation). All of this is criminal! You can find out more about sexual crime here.

Honour-related violence and oppression

In some family units and extended families, honour is very important, which means that there are often special rules and restrictions. For example, adults can decide which friends their children may have, who they should spend time with and marry, and which clothes the children may wear. If you violate the rules you can be threatened or even subject to violence and other forms of abuse. The rules are usually strictest for girls and women, but boys and men are also subject to honour-related violence and oppression, including by being forced to monitor and control their sisters.

All of this is a violation of human rights, and as from 1 July 2020 there is a law that imposes stronger penalties for honour-based crimes. From the text of the Act: “In addition to what applies to each particular type of criminal offence, aggravating circumstances in assessing the criminality shall take into account in particular [...] whether a motive for the offence was to preserve or restore the honour of a person or family unit, extended family or other similar group.”

Material violence

Material violence means that a person destroys items belonging to another person, or forces someone to destroy their items.

Financial violence

Financial violence can involve a person controlling how someone else spends their money, without having a legal right to do so. Financial violence can also involve forcing another person to take out loans, or controlling the other person’s finances and material assets to create isolation and vulnerability, and to make the person financially dependent. In certain circumstances, a person who finds it difficult to manage their finances may be assigned what is known as a trustee. A trustee is always appointed by a court.


Neglect encompasses a great deal. It could, for example, involve withholding or not providing things that another person needs in the right way, such as food or medicine. It can also be failing to dress a child in warm clothes when it’s cold outside, or as a parent/guardian not giving a child affection or security.

Corporal punishment

Striking a child is a crime in Sweden. All violence against children was banned in 1979. This means that parents are not allowed to hit their children. A child is anyone under the age of 18. Sweden was the first country in the world to ban violence against children, known as corporal punishment. Unfortunately, many children are still subject to violence in the home. Violence occurs in all classes of society, in all occupational groups and residential areas – but it is always criminal and must always be reported to the police.